Google is keen on the $31 billion local advertising opportunity, as I discuss in ““Google: $31 billion local winner?”
Most Google searches for local businesses are initiated at the general search box at Google.com, despite Google’s best efforts to drive users to start their local searches at Google Maps. To capitalize more on local searches performed at Google.com, Google is now inserting more of the Google Maps local search experience directly in Google.com SERPS.
In response to a general search query such as Atlanta restaurant, Google returns a mini Google Map with three Atlanta restaurants flagged. Adjacent to the map are restaurant guidebook style listings for the three restaurants including telephone numbers, addresses, direct Website links, links to reviews…
The “normal” Google organic search results appear after the enhanced local listings.
Many people come to Google.com to navigate the web, but are you aware that you can use it to navigate the real world as well? Over the past few months, we've been hard at work making it easier to find and compare local businesses and services right from the standard web results page.
What Google doesn’t say, however, is how it determines which three local businesses to feature as listings A, B and C or number one, two and three results in the enhanced local search SERPs.
General Google SERP positions one to three have been considered the most valuable. They will now be trumped by the enhanced local listings which precede them in local searches, effectively representing positions four, five and six in such SERPs.
Not only do the new local listings come before the standard PageRank algorithm derived results, they are more prominent and may be perceived by searchers as Google recommendations for the local businesses. Top placement combined with enhanced presentation means the new local listings slots will be highly prized by local businesses.
Google is putting itself in competition with key local AdWords accounts: Citysearch, AOL, Zagat…The new enhanced local listings appear below and next to Google “Sponsored Links” for local listings directories.Will the enhanced local listings become a new Local AdWords product?
Google was “hard at work” to develop the new local listings format within Google.com. It will undoubtedly be hard at work going forward to develop new ways to monetize its prime, lucrative Google Local real estate at Google.com.